The Astros are finally on the board for the 2019 World Series after picking up a 4-1 win last night. While the score might indicate a comfortable victory, this game could have turned on multiple occasions if the Nationals had actually cashed in a few of of their prime scoring chances. With a chance to secure a daunting 3-0 series lead, Washington had to go back to the clubhouse at the end of the game lamenting their missed opportunities.
This was never more evident than what happened in the bottom of the sixth inning. By this point, Houston was up by three runs and Washington had already squandered plenty of chances to score some runs. But the Nats were still getting on base and hitting all night and they still found themselves in a spot where they could have really made this game interesting.
In the sixth, the Nats ended up getting on base with a couple of walks. Victor Robles and Matt Adams both walked, and Adams walked after Robles made it to second base on a stolen base. The stage was once again set for something to happen for Washington — even if the whole “Baby Shark” thing resulted in Gerardo Parra striking out. The good vibes from that weird-but-lovely moment were still there so maybe this would turn into a breakthrough?
That’s where Will Harris came into the picture. This was Brad Peacock’s mini-mess and it was Harris’ job to come in and pitch Houston’s way out of the mess. He had a whale of a matchup on his hands as took the mound and had to take on Trea Turner and Adam Eaton at the very least. The top of Washington’s order was looming large and if those two managed to get a run in and even cut the lead down to just two runs, that could have been the snowball that touched off an avalanche.
Will Harris himself will tell you that he only throws two pitches — a cutter and a curveball. So after giving Trea Turner three cutters and a curveball for the first four pitches of the at-bat, Harris was probably certain that everybody in the ballpark knew he was going to throw a curve next. Sure enough, that’s what Turner was sitting on and he took a decent cut at the curveball but was only able to foul it off. Harris then proceeded to pump in another curveball and Turner swung and missed at it.
It was now down to Adam Eaton to hopefully turn this into a two-out rally and conversely, Will Harris was just one out away from successfully carrying the relief baton into the next inning. After dealing with a six-pitch duel that felt like sixteen pitches, this five-pitch duel must have felt like fifteen — especially after the third pitch of the at-bat was a dubious check swing that was ruled a ball. The next pitch after the controversial check swing was another cutter from Harris. That was three straight cutters so it was pretty clear what was coming after that.
Eaton figured it out too and he put the curveball in play. Unfortunately for Eaton, the Nationals, and nearly everybody in attendance, he grounded out softly to Yuli Gurriel to end the inning. All Washington could do at that point was lament another scoring chance gone by as the game got later and later. It was a frustrating night for the Nationals and while the sixth inning probably wasn’t the biggest wasted opportunity, it was definitely emblematic of the type of night that Washington had at the plate.
The good news for the Nationals is that it’s very hard to envision them having another awful night at the plate when it comes to their situational hitting. With that being said, Houston’s bullpen showed that they can indeed string together some scoreless innings. With a bullpen game looming for tonight’s crucial Game 4, the Astros relievers have to continue to step up. Washington may not be as unlucky and unfortunate with runners in scoring position as they were in Game 3, but Houston’s relievers appear to be ready to take on the challenge that’s facing them as the Astros attempt to even this series up.